By Alex Braelow
How does one describe Florence? Beautiful seems too obvious. Inspiring is, perhaps, uninspired. And really, no suite of carefully placed adverbs can do it any justice. Indeed, it may simply be best to describe what the City of Lilies— the city of Dante— evokes in her citizens and visitors alike.
The French author, Stendhal, described the “ecstacy” of being “absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty“ to be such that he “reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations.”
Likewise, Mark Twain described a sun setting over the Arno and Brunelleschi’s dome as “a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.”
Now, before you scoff at the metaphysics here, consider something. To walk the streets of Florence is to walk in the footsteps of Leonardo, Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, and Boccaccio—to name a scant few.
So, if you find yourself in Florence, embrace it. Visit the Basilica di Santa Croce, where Donatello sculpted The Annunciation into the gilded limestone reliefs, and where the walls bare the frescoes of Giotto. Pay your respects the geniuses there entombed: Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli.
Spend an afternoon strolling priceless galleries like the Bargello, or Cosimo de’ Medici’s Uffizi. Wander the Accademia, where Michelangelo’s David keeps an ever-vigilant eye on the city of seven hills. Cross the Ponte Vecchio, where goldsmiths and jewelers have sold their goods since 1593.
If you’re more of an epicurean, and you travel with your stomach, Florence has something for you as well. Dig in to a world famous bistecca alla fiorentina at Buca Lapi. Or, stop by one of the city’s many gelato laboratories and enjoy what is perhaps the city’s most ecstacy-inducing invention—gelato.
While we can’t guarantee an encounter with the sublime, we can guarantee an always best connected experience no matter where you go. In bocca al lupo!